An Armed Robbery 2001

This new South Africa has been bad for a long time. This happened nearly ten years back in a busy shopping complex.

At S&LC Mark was firing more people than hiring. Thomas was one of them, can’t say I was sorry to see him go. He also downscaled the shop and we no longer did car radios and TV’s. Good thing I was in the Professional Sound by now. We moved to smaller premises in a complex called Midrand Junction. Interestingly our neighbour was a tiny little shop come ware house called Sahara Computers, any South Africans will know how large that company is today, small beginnings. We had a duplex shop, the bottom floor was a showroom, the demo room and stockroom. Denis manned the floor and I was in the office upstairs. There were two offices, Ashleen the secretary and I shared one,  Marc and Frederick shared the other. The kitchenette and toilets were also up here. Ashleen and I got on very well together, she was an exceedingly beautiful Indian woman and lived near my house. I taught her how to drive as her husband would not.

9.30 on a Tuesday morning. I am on the phone to my mate Angus. As the toilet is upstairs and customers use it I take no notice of a man coming up them. I am not looking at him but hear the un-mistakable sound of a semi- auto pistol been cocked. He shoves it against my head, shouting I must put the phone down. I do not say goodbye to Angus, just do as he says. Another man rushes into Marc’s office. Ashleen is still as a rabbit caught in the headlights. My guy is shaking so badly that the gun is tap tapping  against my head. I am still on my pacifist pluk and un-armed. Time seems to slow down, I notice the weapon he has is a brand new model, Tarus Millennium 9mm. I hope he does not pull the trigger by accident or from shaking so badly.

The other guy is man handling Marc and Frederick out their office and down the stairs. He shouts at my guy to bring Ashleen and I. The guy leaves me and grabs the 8 month pregnant Ashleen. By himself he would be easy to overpower, but the other guy, also armed has Marc and Frederick, I know they must have friends downstairs as well. I get ordered to follow my guy and Ashleen. Real dummy this one. Downstairs Rachel, the cashier is behind her till, her eyes are closed and she is praying, the rest of the staff and two other gunmen are in the sound demo room. This room is a miniature disco and soundproofed.

My cell phone rings, all the gunmen start shouting. My guy shoves the gun nearly up my nostril. I hand him the phone, another guy collects everyone’s wallets and watches, he forgets about me. The leader is demanding the safe keys from Marc. Marc tells him to fuck off. He gets pistol whipped for his trouble, but still won’t tell where the key is. I tell Marc to give them what they want. He stubbornly refuses. The leader starts to punch Ashleen in the stomach, I move purely by instinct, only a fraction of a step, I get two guns shoved in my face, I can do nothing. Frederick also know where the key is and as Marc will not tell, even now, he does. One on the gunmen takes the key, they know where the safe is, under the stairs. Marc bites them more shit and gets beaten to the floor. My nervous chap re- cocks his gun, the bullet flies through the air, the leader picks it up. The other guy comes back, he has broken the fucking key in the safe! There is a lot of shouting, the leader demands we lie on the floor. This is it, we will either live or we will die in the next few minutes. I believe that they will not shoot us, they, at this point just want to get away. I can only hope if they do start shooting I won’t be first and hope I can move fast enough to get at least one of them. Not much of a fucking plan, I know. They all leave. I wait a few moments then cautiously get up and go look.

Rachel is all alone, eyes still closed. I tell her they are gone. She immediately goes to make tea for everyone. Now there is faith I respect, no matter what they threatened her with, she was not going to move and believed if she died right then, praying, she would go to heaven. Best Christian I have met, then and since. I also find out that she was on the phone to my agent in Bloemfontein, when ordered to put the phone down. She calmly informed him that we were being robbed and would he call the police. This small lady is much braver than the Mexican Horse Thief.  The gunman had to rip the phone wires out of the wall! She risked her life in vain. I got a call later from the agent and this is what he told me.

He immediately called the Bloemfontein Flying Squad, they informed him it was not their problem, he must call Johannesburg. He asked for the number, they could not give it to him and told him to look it up! He did find the number and called them. They NEVER arrived. We had called the police from our side and they came 4 days later after we called them a few more times. Then actually accused Marc of trying to set up an insurance scam because we did not call the robbery in immediately.  The gunmen fled taking a few high end Technics turntables is all. I had a huge fight with Marc about the whole business. I know that the safe had just over R10 000.00 in it and that was insured. He had risked all of our lives and that of an un-born child for that! Fucking unacceptable. He was no longer a friend of mine.

I went home that night and was in a bad head space, I had thoughts of taking my snipers rifle, climbing up on of the Billboards and taking pot shots at taxis. All the men gunmen were Black men and in this country it is sometimes VERY hard not to be racist. I called my friend Charmaine and we went out to supper instead, good thing I was still on coffee, with some vodka in me…. who know what I would have done?

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